I found myself sloppily slapped across a couch, my clothes stuck to me from excess sweat and vomit surging up my throat. A large clot of chemical mucus was slowly oozing down my throat. I swallowed hard, dehydrated and numb, as I slowly lifted myself into sitting position. There were still a few lines cut on the messy table in front of me. I grabbed the warm beer on the floor by my foot and gulped it quickly. My arm was covered in marks- long white streaks highlighted with wet red stripes. There were flesh colored flecks scattered everywhere. Through my dizzy vision, they appeared to be millions of small bugs but as my eyes focused I realized they were large skin flakes. I'd been itching in my sleep. My heart was barely beating; the pulse was dangerously slow. I needed to move around to ensure it stayed in a safe range. I tried to stand and failed. I lay back on the dingy sofa and closed my eyes. My body was still tingling, the warmth flowing through my veins. I couldn't think about too much and the thoughts that crossed my mind, I couldn't be bothered to notice. I was in my own secret paradise. I didn't care that the rent hadn't been paid for the last 5 months while my heroin use became abuse. The world didn't exist as far as I was concerned. I was still mailing letters home to my parents, letting them know how great the college experience was and asking for extra cash-"For books, Dad." I told them I'd quit my job, reminded them how hard it was to balance an education and maintain employment-"School is work, Ma."

A lot had happened since I'd left off for college last summer. "This is a time to experiment and find yourself," Mom had said. Turns out she'd been right. I found myself- in a trashed apartment living out the junky stereotype. The ex straight-A student with an egg for a brain that had been smashed and shattered with a frying pan every night as I snorted up my new friend Harry and bled all over my shirt. I was staying in a rent- controlled place, only $200 a month and I still couldn't afford it. Every dime I earned was spent on bags of junk. I managed to hold my job as a waiter at "De ja Vogue", a posh uptown restaurant that serves thumb-sized entrées drizzled with a teaspoon of sauce for $40 a plate. Lately the head chef's been riding my ass about not showing up, but I haven't been fired- too many customers requested me specifically. I'm sure if she knew I was dealing there. But then again, I doubt the customers would keep showing up for the meager over priced meals without me supplying the appetite suppressants. Those upper crust snobs love their cocaine. I'd started selling because I just wasn't making it on tips and $3 an hour, paying bills and getting fixed. Of course, the more stressed I got about my situation, the more smack I needed just to maintain. It all worked out-a small investment of a couple thousand dollars for coke in bulk brought in an additional thousand a day, which was a good thing considering my habit was getting worse. I needed 20 bags just to get through the weekend, an amount that would last a casual user probably a whole year.

I had a girlfriend too. Ironic, she turned me on to the junk, and then left me because of it. We'd accidentally gotten a pure batch once, and instead of skin-popping like the rest of us, she'd stuck the needle right into a vein. She passed out and I put her on my bed where she slept it off for a few days. When she woke up, I was off with a few friends, scoring more junk. She was pissed, claiming she almost died and I didn't even care. The truth was, at that point, I didn't. I couldn't. Who can care when heroin is running through them? She got clean, tried to convince me to join her in rehab, gave me an ultimatum- the Drugs or Her. I picked the drugs, like any sane junky. She'd be back, sooner or later. They never stay away forever. In the meantime, I had my precious heroin to keep me company while I waited.

Leaning over, I inhaled the other lines on the table and nodded out again. The TV was still on. Porn provided the background noise. I'd have jerked off, but that would have required movement.

Sometimes I'd hit what I thought was rock bottom and quitting seemed like a good idea. Eviction notices, getting expelled from college and losing my athletic scholarship, complaints of smell because I'd pass out and shit myself but couldn't be bothered to wash up because my only concern was another line. I was waiting in the parking lot of a local grocery store once to score a few grams when a little kid pointed this out to his mother and she yanked him away like I was diseased, calling me a junky. It was true, but the word hurt. I never thought of my self as a drug addict, even though I was addicted. Maybe it was because I'd never tried to stop. There was no problem and maybe that was the problem.

My head was ringing. I thought it was the phone at first, but that had been shut off weeks ago and it wasn't the TV either-the pizzaboy was still pounding away at the lonely housewife. I never answered my phone, so I didn't really see the point in having one. I've been using the payphone down the street to make my connections anyways, ever since watching a talk- show about shifty land lords spying on their coed tennents. I've been told I look like-to quote a few freshman female-"Hot sex". Chicks dig scars on skinny boys. I've gotten my ass kicked a few times for ripping off young hustlers their first time out slanging dope, speant a few nights sleeping in dumpsters when I was too fucked up or paranoid to go home. They aren't all that grimey-the dumpsters. People think of Chinese food and maggots, but the ones I've been in were filled with cardboard boxes and discarded clothing.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaught. I never thought about why. School wasn't exactly the best time of my life, and the weekands weren't much better. I was an only child, my father was there but that's all. He worked the morning shift at a factory while I was in school. He'd plant himself in a chair and maybe he'd order my mother to fix dinner if she was running slow. My mother was a homemaker. Always baking, perpetually smiling, prancing about with a vacume cleaner and wearing her best pearls with brand new heels, leaving a scent of vanilla and rose in her wake. Quite frankly, I wasn't surprised to find out later that her "Happy pills" were nothing more than legal uppers.

I can't say I had friends, but I can't say I was a loner or social reject either. I got invited to parties, sleepovers, games. I'd show up, but I was just on another level. A group of us guys would get together in junior high and check out porn confiscated from an older brothers stash and have group jerks, hiding our wangs from each other and peeking from the corner of our eyes to make sure noone was checking out anyone else. Later, when puberty struck and the fascination with body fluid was still strong, we'd play a different version of this game called limp biscuit, aiming our jizz onto a cracker and whoever was the last to blast had to eat it.